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Lion Links: 1/12/21

Pride re-sign Viggiano, SheBelieves returns to Exploria, MLS transfer news, and more.

SOCCER: OCT 05 NWSL - Washington Spirit at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today is Joao Moutinho’s birthday, and Orlando City’s starting left back is turning 23. There’s a ton of news to get to today, so lets hop on in.

Pride Re-sign Marisa Viggiano

Yesterday the Orlando Pride announced the re-signing of midfielder Marisa Viggiano. The midfielder has been inked to a two-year deal that includes an option for an additional year. Viggiano was picked 30th overall by the Pride in the 2019 NWSL draft and made 19 appearances during her rookie season, with 16 of those coming as a starter. Viggiano will likely get a significant amount of playing time this year.

SheBelieves Cup Returns to Exploria

In the past, Exploria Stadium has hosted some of the games for the SheBelieves Cup, but yesterday it was announced that the purple palace will be the site of every single one of the tournament’s games this year. Brazil, Japan, and Canada will join the United States Women’s National Team in three days of competition of Feb. 18, 21, and 24, with each of those dates having a doubleheader. Orlando soccer fans will be seeing quite a lot of the USWNT between the SheBelieves Cup and the earlier news that the team will play a pair of friendlies against Colombia next week. A limited amount of tickets will be available for both friendlies and all SheBelieves Cup matches.

MLS Transfer Happenings

Two MLS teams have made some notable transfers. First, LAFC signed Corey Baird from Real Salt Lake. In exchange for the forward, RSL got $500,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) across the next two seasons, a 2021 international roster slot, and “future considerations.” Baird was the 2018 MLS Rookie of the Year and will strengthen LA’s already formidable front line.

Elsewhere, the Chicago Fire announced the signing of Jhon Jáder Durán, a forward from Envigado FC in Colombia. At 17 years of age, Durán is the youngest international player signing in league history. With that being said, his contract with the Fire doesn’t actually start until Jan. 1, 2022, and he will spend the 2021 season with Envigado. The deal is for three years with additional options for the 2025 and 2026 seasons. He’ll join the Fire after he turns 18.

English Clubs Use “COVID Clauses”

Premier League and English Football League clubs have begun inserting “COVID clauses” into many loan deals. The clauses mean that the loan can be canceled and fees can be at least partly recovered if COVID-19 causes more interruptions in the current season. Further complicating things is the fact that many clubs are also trying to insert language into new and existing contracts that would have players take pay cuts if games keep being played without fans.

MLS Mock Draft Sees Orlando Take a Forward First

SBISoccer has released its first MLS mock draft of 2021, ahead of the real thing going down at the end of the month. The mock has Orlando selecting forward/winger Justin McMaster with the 19th overall pick and right back Justin Malou with the 22nd overall pick. McMaster plays for Wake Forest and would provide depth for a forward group that saw Robinho and Santiago Patino both leave the club. Malou meanwhile, would fill a need at fullback depth after Kamal Miller was selected in the Expansion Draft.

Duncan Joins U-23 USMNT

Defender Kyle Duncan has been added to the USMNT U-23 roster amid news that a member of the U-23 group has tested positive for COVID-19. Duncan primarily plays as a right back for the New York Red Bulls, and is also the cousin of Timothy Weah. The news that a U-23 player has tested positive for COVID is very unwelcome news, and even more so because there are three Orlando City players currently with that group — Daryl Dike, Benji Michel, and Andres Perea. The fact that a defender was subbed in might suggest that the positive player is not one of the three Lions, but it’s certainly something to watch.

Free Kicks
  • Jordan Morris is reportedly interested in a move to Europe.
  • Former Orlando City B player Joe Gallardo has signed with Queretaro.
  • Four people have completed the nomination process for the election of the next USSF vice-president.
  • USWNT and North Carolina Courage center back Abby Dahlkemper is reportedly joining Manchester City on a multi-year deal.

That’ll be all for me today. Y’all stay safe out there.